The two theft indictments lodged against Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings each combine two separate alleged acts, and the charge of tampering with records indicates that the prosecutor is alleging that Hastings either altered a document on his own or abetted someone else in doing so.
According to a bill of particulars filed last week by Robert F. Smith, the special prosecutor in the Hastings case, both the theft and theft in office charges are based on “$500 obtained through a reimbursement on a vacant building at 135 North High Street, Hillsboro, OH, and/or the cost to the City of Hillsboro for the personal use of a dumpster leased by the City of Hillsboro from Rumpke of Ohio, Inc.” The language in the bill of particulars regarding the basis for the charges is identical for both theft counts.
Hastings was indicted by a grand jury with election falsification, theft, theft in office and tampering with records. All the charges are felonies.
Combining the $500 rebate with the use of a trash dumpster apparently raises the total amount involved in the alleged theft above the $1,000 threshold necessary for a felony charge in the theft indictment. But the charge of “theft in office” is a felony regardless of the amount of money involved. The bill of particulars does not indicate a specific value for the alleged use of the dumpster.
Hastings’ attorney, James Boulger, had asked for the bill of particulars at the mayor’s arraignment on Aug. 1. A bill of particulars is “a written statement… giving the defendant detailed information concerning the claims or charges made against him or her,” according to a legal definition.
Aside from providing additional specifics on the theft charges, the bill of particulars filed by Smith offers little additional information. The election falsification charge stems from the allegation that “on January 12, 2015, the Defendant signed a Declaration of candidacy form on which he falsely stated his residence address was 107 W. Beech Street, Hillsboro, OH 45133 when is actual residency was outside of Hillsboro, OH.”
In regard to the tampering with records charge, the prosecutor alleges that Hastings either directly altered a letter authorizing the $500 vacant property rebate, or aided someone else, or at least knew it had been altered.
The bill of information states that Hastings, “knowing he had no privilege to do so, and with purpose to defraud, or knowing he was facilitating a fraud, did utter a writing or record, or did aid or abet another in the uttering of a writing or record, knowing it to have been tampered with, the writing or record being kept by or belonging to the City of Hillsboro. The writing or record in question was a letter dated June 24, 2015 which purported to be a letter from Todd Wilkin, the Safety and Service Director of the City of Hillsboro.”
A separate filing in Highland County Common Pleas Court indicates that Smith has turned over all discovery documents to the defense.
A final pre-trial in the Hastings case is set for Oct. 12, with the trial scheduled to begin Nov. 7. Judge Patricia Ann Cosgrove of Summit County is presiding over the case by assignment of the Ohio Supreme Court. Hastings has pled not guilty on all charges.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.